Tuesday, March 15, 2005

DOB did go to the library

So I have been enjoying:

The Power of Babel, by John McWhorter. Great fun to see how languages have sprung up, melded, changed, and vanished over time. After tackling several different languages and never getting very far, I've finally discovered I'm much more interested in linquistics as a whole than in any languages in particular. The German dialect Asterix cartoons were cool, but I'm afraid the 70's sitcom analogies were lost on me.

Intellectuals, by Paul Johnson. A book calculated to make one very glad not to be an intellectual and ten times more glad not to be married to one of them. The basic premise is examining the lives of those who claimed the inherent goodness and wisdom to take the world apart and start it over from scratch (Rousseau, Shelley, Tolstoy, etc.)--did they, in fact, display such goodness and wisdom in their private lives? The answer, unsurprisingly, is no--given in sometimes rather too salacious detail.

One can't help but pity the fellows, too. It must be dreadfully stuffy to live in a universe so small it can all fit inside your own head--a universe too small to have room for God.

I feel a need for some Chesterton and the beauty of small things after reading about all their muddled thinking and world-conquering. Probably The Ballad of the White Horse:

When all philosophies shall fail
This word alone shall fit;
That a sage feels too small for life,
And a fool too large for it.

Lest you think me utterly given up to overly profound thoughts, I have also thorougly enjoyed The Princess Tales, Ella Enchanted, and A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning.

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